EPSON Workforce DS-30 Portable Scanner Comes in Handy

EPSON Workforce DS-30
With school around the corner I have been doing a lot of teacher training before the school bell rings, and just the other day I had a chance to use the EPSON Workforce DS-30 Portable Scanner in my training session. Working with a range of students with fine motor, learning and visual disabilities it is important for me to demonstrate to teachers how they can create materials that can be viewed on the computer screen. Inevitably this requires them to scan the material and prepare it so that the student can access the material on their computer. One of my favorite programs for adapting materials and scanning them into the computer is Adobe Acrobat X. I have written about Adobe Acrobat X and how I use it to create onscreen materials, but now having the trusty EPSON Workforce DS-30 in my bag has made a world of difference.  The EPSON Workforce DS-30 is quite lightweight and is powered by the USB port eliminating the need for a power cord. The  EPSON Workforce DS-30 was easy to set up and comes standard with a TWAIN driver that lets me utilize the scanner with other scan and read applications. The  EPSON Workforce DS-30 supports both Macintosh and Windows and can scan Black and White as well as Color documents with resolutions as high as 600 dpi.

Scanned Page from Scholastic Science News
Isolating Text from Article
In the following example, the Science teachers gave me a copy of the Scholastic Science News which she will be using throughout the year. Looking at the complexity of the page, I knew that we would need to break out the text from the page and isolate it for the student to be able to read this. With this in mind, I decided to scan the page into Adobe Acrobat X using the  EPSON Workforce DS-30. Even though the Scholastic Science News was about 12 pages- the scanner had no problem scanning the page. After scanning the page this is what the captured page looked like. Now using the Take a Snapshot Tool in Adobe Acrobat X, I selected the area of text at the bottom left of the page. This placed the text into the clipboard which then allowed me from within Adobe Acrobat X to use the Create PDF from Clipboard command to create a stand alone file with just the text. Using the Zoom in feature from within Adobe Acrobat X on the text will allow the student to be able to read and access the materials.

Having access to the  EPSON Workforce DS-30 and Adobe Acrobat X allows me to help students who need access their school materials on the computer. These tools pack a lot of power and give me the freedom to demonstrate what is possible when modifying student's work. If you are looking at portable solutions for scanning then please take a look at the EPSON Workforce DS-30- it is lightweight powerhouse of a scanner that every assistive technology should carry in their bag. Trust me you will want to add  the EPSON Workforce DS-30 to your AT Toolkit. Look for a screencast demonstrating this technique shortly on my blog and on my YouTube channel.

Boogie Board RIP Adds Handwriting Recognition

In my last post I share with you how the Boogie Board RIP integrates with Evernote the online note taking service. Today I would like to share with you a screencast that shows you how you can take your hand written notes and covert them to editable text that can be exported to Microsoft Word. The Boogie Board RIP now supports hand writing recognition using MyScript Studio Notes Edition software which adds another facet to this handy note taking device. Watch my screencast as I demo just how easy it is to convert your notes with MyScript Studio Notes Edition. Download a rial version of . Download a trial version of
 MyScript Studio Notes Edition and see just how easy it is to convert your handwritten notes!

This screencast was created using Camtasia Studio 8

Boogie Board RIP Adds Evernote Integration

Since the ISTE 2012 Conference, I have be experimenting with the Boogie Board RIP and how it could be used by students in the classroom for taking notes. I was excited to learn that last week Improv Electronics released the Virtual Desktop Companion 2 software that now includes Evernote integration and handwriting recognition support using MyScript Studio Notes Edition software. Now it is possible for students who are using the Boogie Board RIP to take notes and save them to their Evernote account. I have put together a short screencast demonstrating just how easy it is to send your notes to your Evernote account. The Boogie Board RIP can store 200 pages of notes which at any time can be moved to your Evernote account giving you complete freedom to store and file them. Look for another screencast coming soon, demonstrating the handwriting recognition software that will allow you to go from a handwritten note directly into Microsoft Word.

Screencast created using Camtasia Studio 8

IdeaPaint- Turning Any Surface into a Dry Erase Whiteboard

Giving students and teachers the opportunity to visualize ideas and concepts is one proven way to improve achievement in the classroom. While many classrooms now have whiteboards as well as interactive whiteboards there are still a large number of schools that still have traditional blackboards that long for the opportunity to have a whiteboard that they can put colored markers to. Replacing blackboards with whiteboards can be extremely expensive for schools when you take into account the labor and the price of good quality whiteboards. But what if there was a cost effective way for classrooms to transform their blackboards into whiteboards? In fact, there is a cost effective way to accomplish this using IdeaPaint- an easy to use dry erase paint that can be applied to almost any surface. In fact some teachers have used IdeaPaint to paint the walls as well as the top of student's desks. I had learned about IdeaPaint several years ago but was excited to see how educators in New Jersey were using this product in the classroom. IdeaPaint has a number of great videos on their website demonstrating how teachers across the US are using IdeaPaint in the classroom to make learning more interactive and more visually appealing. 

I had a chance to chat with Annika Levitt, First Grade Teacher at the Kiel School in Kinnelon, NJ who has been using IdeaPaint in the classroom to get her perspective on the product.

BSF: What's your overall view of IdeaPaint? It looks like a great product for the classroom!

AL: I can see as to why IdeaPaint would strike you as a great tool for the classroom...because it is!! Visually it is a wonderful outlet for kids to express their ideas and keep them motivated. For example, the difference of having them solve math problems on their desks vs. paper did wonders! As for the application, although I did not cover the desks and walls firsthand, I was there to watch the painters and it seemed like a pretty simple task. The desks were very easy to prep. As for the walls, like any paint job it took some prep work of sanding, but once the paint was ready to roll on it was an easy process. I did have the experience of using some touch up paint in a difficult area and that also very simple.

BSF: What difference do you see having access to the Ideapaint surfaces in your first grade classroom?

AL: Having access to IdeaPaint surfaces in the classroom opens up endless opportunities for learning. The ability to write on these surfaces caters to the needs of all different types of students, who exhibit multiple learning styles. For example, the child who learns through visual means, the child who needs kinesthetic learning can get up and write on his/her locker as opposed to being  trapped at their seat. My classroom is the smallest room in the school and IdeaPaint allowed for us to utilize the most space. We can even write on an area of the floor! I also find children are not afraid, or shall I say less reluctant to get their ideas out. We use Teacher's College Writing Workshop and IdeaPaint is a fabulous tool for brainstorming, editing, and partner sharing. I found students in my classroom collaborated at a different level too through means of a dry erase marker! In an age where we reinforce "going green," IdeaPaint allowed for me to take pictures of students work, e-mail them or post them on my website for parent communication, giving them access to the fun classroom learning. Also, as a teacher I was able to post charts up for students to look back on past learning serving as reference tools. I also took pictures of kids' drawings, science conclusions, writing charts and saved them to my Smart Board to have on file. 
BSF: You seem very excited by the potential of IdeaPaint-please share some final thoughts

AL: All in all, I cannot express enough how IdeaPaint has helped me as a teacher to not only make learning more fun, but to watch children interact and grow incorporating the tool. I am excited to kick off a new school year having students walk into the classroom with their names written in dry erase, allowing them to personalize their locker area, and having their parents write a letter to their child on Back-to-School Night right on their desks! I strongly recommend this product to educators at all different levels!

Watch Annika describe how she is using IdeaPaint in her classroom

IdeaPaint is a great product that opens up all kinds of learning opportunities for the classroom. If you have any questions about the product, please feel free to email me or leave a comment.

Rethinking assistive technology in a post-PC world

I had a chance last week to write a blog post for SmartBlogs in Education and wanted to share the link with you.

As Moore’s Law would have predicted, the pace of technology has been accelerating at an incredible rate in the past couple of years, which has made it a challenge for educators to select and decide on which technology to bring into the classroom. While general education is now wrestling with how to handle the purchase of tablets (iPads) for classroom use, the decisions that have to be made with regards to using these technologies with students in special education has become even a bigger issue.  Continue to Read Article

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